Florida Senate - 2017 CS for CS for SB 304 By the Committees on Community Affairs; and Judiciary; and Senator Thurston 578-03984-17 2017304c2 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the payment of claims by the Palm 3 Beach County School Board; providing for an 4 appropriation to compensate Altavious Carter for 5 injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of a 6 bus driver of the Palm Beach County School District; 7 providing that the amount awarded under the act to 8 Altavious Carter satisfies all present and future 9 claims related to the negligent act; providing a 10 limitation on the payment of fees; providing for an 11 appropriation and annuity to compensate Dustin 12 Reinhardt for injuries sustained as a result of the 13 negligence of employees of the Palm Beach County 14 School District; providing that certain payments and 15 the amount awarded under the act to Dustin Reinhardt 16 satisfy all present and future claims related to the 17 negligent act; providing a limitation on the payment 18 of compensation, fees, and costs; providing an 19 effective date. 20 21 WHEREAS, in regards to Altavious Carter, he was a 14-year 22 old freshman at Summit Christian School in Palm Beach County on 23 December 15, 2005, while riding as a passenger in a vehicle 24 driven by Vincent H. Merriweather, and 25 WHEREAS, while Vincent H. Merriweather was stopped at a red 26 light at the intersection of Forest Hill Boulevard and Olympia 27 Boulevard in Palm Beach County, his vehicle, a van, was struck 28 by a school bus driven by an employee of the Palm Beach County 29 School District, and 30 WHEREAS, the bus driver, Dennis Gratham, was cited for 31 careless driving and the speed of the bus at the time of impact 32 was 48.5 miles per hour, and 33 WHEREAS, the seat in which Altavious Carter was sitting was 34 broken as a result of the crash, and Altavious Carter, who was 35 wearing a seatbelt, was thrown into the back of the van, his 36 neck was broken at the C6 level, and he suffered a C6-7 interior 37 subluxation and reversal of normal cervical lordosis, with 38 spinal cord flattening, and 39 WHEREAS, Altavious Carter was taken by ambulance to 40 Wellington Regional Medical Center and subsequently to St. 41 Mary’s Medical Center, where he was diagnosed and treated for 42 the injuries he sustained, and 43 WHEREAS, Altavious Carter received a discectomy and fusion 44 at C6-7, along with placement of a bone graft and cage, plates, 45 and screws to fuse the spine at C6-7, and 46 WHEREAS, following rehabilitation, an MRI taken in June 47 2009 indicated a small herniation at the C7-T1 level, 48 representing the start of degenerative disc disease, and 49 WHEREAS, on February 25, 2010, Altavious Carter received a 50 jury verdict against the Palm Beach County School Board, and the 51 court entered a judgment in the amount of $1,094,034.30, and 52 WHEREAS, on August 4, 2010, an additional final cost 53 judgment in the amount of $46,830.11 was entered in favor of 54 Altavious Carter against the Palm Beach County School Board in 55 the same matter, and 56 WHEREAS, Altavious Carter and the Palm Beach County School 57 Board have agreed to a settlement of the claim in the amount of 58 $790,000, and 59 WHEREAS, in regards to Dustin Reinhardt, he was a student 60 at Seminole Ridge Community High School in Loxahatchee in Palm 61 Beach County in September 2013, and was involved in the Army 62 Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for which he received 63 honors for his participation, and 64 WHEREAS, on September 4, 2013, while in auto shop class at 65 Seminole Ridge Community High School, Dustin Reinhardt was 66 inflating a large truck tire, which proceeded to explode, 67 striking him in his head, and 68 WHEREAS, immediately following the explosion, Dustin 69 Reinhardt was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West 70 Palm Beach where he underwent multiple surgeries, including 71 skull and facial reconstruction procedures, was placed in a 72 chemically induced coma, and spent more than 4 weeks in the 73 intensive care unit, and 74 WHEREAS, Dustin Reinhardt has continued to be impacted by 75 the injuries he incurred from the explosion, including the loss 76 of vision in his right eye, short-term memory loss, and a recent 77 diagnosis of severe traumatic brain injury, and 78 WHEREAS, the traumatic brain injury will impair Dustin 79 Reinhardt’s executive function and has resulted in symptoms such 80 as the exhibition of socially inappropriate behavior, difficulty 81 in planning and taking initiative, difficulty with verbal 82 fluency, an inability to multitask, and difficulty in 83 processing, storing, and retrieving information, and 84 WHEREAS, because of the explosion, Dustin Reinhardt 85 continues to live in supervised care at the Neuro International 86 and is unlikely to ever live an independent life, and 87 WHEREAS, the injuries that Dustin Reinhardt sustained were 88 foreseeable and preventable and the school had a duty to prevent 89 his injuries, and 90 WHEREAS, Dustin Reinhardt and the Palm Beach County School 91 Board have agreed to a settlement in the sum of $5 million, and 92 the Palm Beach County School Board has paid $300,000 of the 93 settlement pursuant to the statutory limits of liability set 94 forth in s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, leaving a remaining 95 balance of $4.7 million, NOW, THEREFORE, 96 97 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 98 99 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 100 found and declared to be true. 101 Section 2. (1) The Palm Beach County School Board is 102 authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of the school 103 board not otherwise appropriated and, no later than 20 days 104 after the effective date of this act, draw a warrant in the sum 105 of $790,000, payable to Altavious Carter as compensation for 106 injuries and damages sustained. 107 (2) The amount paid by the Palm Beach County School Board 108 under s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded under 109 section 2 of this act are intended to provide the sole 110 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 111 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 112 injuries to Altavious Carter. The total amount paid for attorney 113 fees relating to this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the 114 total amount awarded under section 2 of this act. 115 Section 3. (1) The Palm Beach County School Board is 116 authorized and directed to: 117 (a) Appropriate from funds of the school board not 118 otherwise encumbered and, no later than 30 days after the 119 effective date of this act, draw a warrant in the sum of $1.7 120 million payable to Dustin Reinhardt, to be placed in the Special 121 Needs Trust created for the exclusive use and benefit of Dustin 122 Reinhardt, as compensation for injuries and damages sustained. 123 (b) Purchase, for Dustin Reinhardt’s benefit, three 124 separate $1 million annuities, over a successive 3-year period 125 of time. The first annuity shall be purchased in the year this 126 claim bill is enacted with the other two annuities purchased in 127 successive years thereafter. The first annuity shall make annual 128 disbursements to Dustin Reinhardt, to be placed in the Special 129 Needs Trust created for the exclusive use and benefit of Dustin 130 Reinhardt, beginning on or about September 2023. The second and 131 third annuities shall make annual disbursements to Dustin 132 Reinhardt, to be placed in the Special Needs Trust created for 133 the exclusive use and benefit of Dustin Reinhardt, pursuant to 134 their terms. 135 (2) The amount paid by the Palm Beach County School Board 136 pursuant to s. 768.28, Florida Statutes, and the amount awarded 137 under section 3 of this act are intended to provide the sole 138 compensation for all present and future claims arising out of 139 the factual situation described in this act which resulted in 140 injuries and damages to Dustin Reinhardt. Of the amount awarded 141 under section 3 of this act, the total amount paid for attorney 142 fees may not exceed $940,000, the total amount paid for lobbying 143 fees may not exceed $235,000, and no amount may be paid for 144 costs and other similar expenses relating to this claim. 145 Attorney or lobbying fees may not be assessed against the value 146 of the annuity. 147 Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.